ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—The City of Gallup will cease enforcement and repeal its current panhandling ordinance after ACLU of New Mexico attorneys and local Gallup attorney, Barry Klopfer, informed the City that the ordinance is unconstitutional.
In a memo to the Gallup Police Chief and Deputy Chief, Gallup City Attorney Curtis Hayes ordered Gallup police to “immediately cease any enforcement of the ordinance until such time that the ordinance is replaced with something that is constitutional” after being contacted by the ACLU of New Mexico and Klopfer.
Klopfer first brought the ordinance to the attention of ACLU of New Mexico attorneys.
“The increased scrutiny of panhandling ordinances around the country led me to question the constitutionality of our own ordinance here in Gallup. Our City Attorney did the right thing,” said Klopfer.
“Panhandling is protected speech under the First Amendment and we’re pleased that City Attorney Hayes not only took our concerns about their ordinance seriously, but actually took action to address them,” said María Martínez Sánchez, ACLU of New Mexico attorney.
Solicitation ordinances are under increased scrutiny around the country. Many have been found unconstitutional and struck down after Reed v. City of Gilbert, a recent U.S. Supreme Court case that strictly limits content-based restrictions on speech.